Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), in his victory speech on December 12, said he would go all guns blazing in the direction of forming a new political party, a consortium of regional parties, at the national level. Quite evidently, his eyes are set on the 2019 general elections. He stressed on the need for a BJP and Congress Mukt Bharat (non-BJP front, non-Congress), calling for a policy overhaul on economic and agricultural sectors.
Although KCR denies having a politically motivated intent behind his idea of uniting the regional parties, analysts suggest electoral process is, by and large, an essential component of all parties at the national stage. Besides, to suggest that such a formation of political entities is apolitical, does not add up. "A replica of Telangana's Rythu Bandhu scheme would be implemented at the national level," said KCR. Bolstering the autonomy of states by eradication of the Concurrent List is KCR's objective to realise India's vision of decentralized power and co-operative federalism. Now that in itself, as KCR knows all too well, is a tall order. Constitutional amendments require numbers and like-minded groups to take such a radical idea forward.
What is the Concurrent List?
The Union and State governments combine enjoy powers over certain subjects--education, population control, animal and wildlife protection among others whereas the Union and the States have a set of subjects at their discretion, as provided by the Constitution in its classification for division of powers between the Union and the States. The Union oversees defence, foreign affairs, railways, banking, among others. The States, contrary to popular demand since the '60s, are confined to subjects like maintaining public order, police, public health and sanitation, hospitals and dispensaries among others.
Earlier this year, in April, the demand for power decentralization was raised in the Southern India Finance Ministers’ Conclave, which discussed the Terms of Reference in the 15th Finance Commission in relation to the Centre's unfair distribution of resources in favour of the 'BIMARU' States.
Interestingly, the Telangana government skipped the Conclave. Did KCR have the Federal Front idea in his mind back then? Who is to tell?
The Telangana government opted out of the PMJAY- Ayushman Bharat, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September, citing wider coverage under the already operational Arogyasri scheme in the State. KCR, who is calling for an end to the hegemony of the Congress and BJP in dictating national politics, is not the first one to raise the issue of the Centre's monopoly in handling State issues.
Instead of handling its primary functions like focusing on foreign affairs, security and banking, the Centre is meddling in subjects that are deep-rooted in the affairs of the States' executive and legislature, KCR said. The need of the hour is transfer of concurrent subjects--agriculture, education, healthcare and urban development to the States, he added.
However, it is undoubtedly challenging for KCR alone, along with smaller players like AIMIM's Asaduddin Owasi, to garner political support at the national stage and get the rquired numbers. KCR’s idea of a renewed and reformed Concurrent List is not all smooth sailing, keeping in mind the larger political complication that would be at hand, should the TRS chief pursue the demand post 2019.
As far as the amending of the Constitution is concerned to the extent of the executive and legislative powers of the Union and the States, a bill would be deemed as passed only with a special majority of the Parliament and also with the consent of half of the State legislatures with simple majority. That is more complex than it sounds.